More conspiracy theories about Mia Rose on YouTube

January 26, 2007

News: Rolling Stone reports about YouTube user heidilow’s assertion that the popularity of singer Mia Rose, who somehow vaulted to the No.1 Most Subscribed musician on YouTube within a month or less, was created by “dummy accounts” on YouTube. Heidilow states: “My mission in life is to expose the trooth from those liberal commies from jacking up their subscribers just to become a YouTube ‘celebrity’!”

Analysis: I love conspiracy theories. But shouldn’t we worry more about her music? Maybe YouTube can develop some anti-fraud type filtering for subscribers who appear in large numbers to be “dummy accounts.”

YouTube + Google to remain separate, but share search

January 26, 2007

News:  Google VP of Product Management Salar Kamangar announced on Google’s blog more details about the acquisition of YouTube.  Although YouTube will remain a separate company, it will integrate some of Google’s search and Ad Sense features:

“YouTube, as we’ve stated previously, will remain an independent subsidiary of Google, and will continue to operate separately. Google will support YouTube by providing access to search and monetization platforms and, when/where YouTube launches internationally, to international resources. YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen and the rest of the YouTube team will continue to innovate exciting new ways for people to “broadcast themselves.”

“Earlier this week, we announced one example of innovation in monetization and distribution with a new AdSense video test. We’ll be working with a wide set of content providers, grouping together high quality video content from providers with high quality ads and offering them as playlists which publishers can select from and display on their AdSense sites. (There’s more about the test on the AdSense blog.)”

Analysis: From a business standpoint, I like the corporate separation between YouTube and Google.  The separate identities will allow each to do what it does best.  I think it becomes harder to innovate when companies become bloated from acquisitions that are folded into one large company.

Fox obtains DMCA subpoena against YouTube

January 26, 2007

News:  The federal district court in SF issued a DMCA subpoena (under 512(h)) against YouTube to reveal information related to the user “ECOtotal,” who posted parts of the season premiere of Fox’s popular show “24,” even before the show aired.  “ECOtotal” also posted unauthorized copies of “The Simpsons.”  (More here)

Analysis: The subpoena is pretty straightforward DMCA law.  I more intrigued — and I believe Fox should be, too — by the fact that someone got a hold of (meaning stole) the premiere of “24” before it even aired.  Fox should be worried about its internal security system.

Does anyone still watch lonelygirl15?

January 25, 2007

News: NYT writer Virginia Heffernan has an in-depth review of the (once?) YouTube sensation “lonelygirl15” aka “Bree,” played by aspiring actress (Jessica Lee Rose). Heffernan is quite effusive in praising the actress:

As a serial drama too, “Lonelygirl15” has kept its first unbeatable asset, the one that has nothing to do with new technology. It’s the girl: Jessica Lee Rose. As the series goes on, Ms. Rose continues to mix moodiness, charm and precociousness, and her witchcraft casts a serious spell. For every fan who’s mad at her for jerking Daniel around, there are 10 who are newly in love. And the fact that she’s now out of her parents’ clutches and in the wide world—à la Lolita, in motels and guest houses—makes her suddenly more available.

Analysis: It’s a little surprising to find how many people are still watching the “lonelygirl15” web series. I’m even more surprised by how glowing Virginia Heffernan’s praise is for the show. The latest video (below) already has close to 150,000 views on the first day — which is quite respectable by YouTube standards. Although I did find “lonelygirl15” interesting enough to base my copyright exam loosely on her story (more specifically, a Law and Order episode “borrowing” her story for its show), I must confess that I don’t get “lonelygirl15.” Never really watched an entire video of “lonelygirl15.” Once the “lonelygirl15” was outed as a work of fiction (instead of fact that it was suggested to be), that seemed to deflate much of the mystique or drama surrounding “lonelygirl15.” To revive interest, the show’s directors have brought in American Idol runner up Katharine McPhee for a cameo appearance and have made the plot more fantastic (Bree’s father is murdered, there’s suggestion that the characters were involved in a cult). If any of that catches your fancy, watch the video.  I respect Heffernan’s view, so I may have to give this another shot.

Movie trailer mashups

January 24, 2007

News: USAToday ran an article “Mashups add splice to movies,” which discusses how people are taking movie trailers (and apparently sometimes the movies themselves) released by the movie studios and re-editing them in their own provocative ways. Writes Janet Kornblum: “The Shining is a romantic comedy, Mary Poppins features an otherworldly nanny who frightens innocent children, and Apocalypto is Mel Gibson’s secretly anti-Semitic tirade. It’s also a Zach Braff coming-of-age film. And have you heard about the Titanic sequel?” Movie studio Fox Atomic even has its own website, which allows users to freely mashup movies in the Fox library.

Analysis: Mashups are very dicey under copyright law, no pun intended. Fair use is judged on a case-by-case basis, but it is somewhat risky to take parts of someone else’s copyrighted work and use it in your own (especially when most of the end product is just other people’s works). This past week, the RIAA even had DJ Drama arrested for an alleged criminal violation of the Georgia racketeering statute RICO for his unauthorized commercial use of copyrighted songs in his mixtapes (more here). But that’s a pretty extreme case involving an entire commercial business of making mixtapes. The mashup videos on YouTube probably don’t make their creators any money, and I doubt the mashups compete against or substitute for the originals in the minds of viewers. This may explain why Fox Atomic has already embraced the mashup for its movies.  And the USAToday article doesn’t report any movie studios that have, as of yet, complained.  It might be that the mashup movie trailers help to promote the original movies, at least in some cases.

Saturday Night Live spoofs Mike Vick water bottle incident — incorrectly

January 23, 2007

News: On Saturday, SNL spoofed Atlanta Falcon QB Michael Vick’s incident with Miami airport security, who confiscated a water bottle containing a mysterious substance thought, by some accounts, of containing marijuana. In this video that NBC posted on YouTube, SNL came dangerously close to falsely reporting Vick as possessing marijuana. They did start by saying “Michael Vick’s alleged attempt to bring marijuana on a plane,” but the entire joke was based on the factual assertion or assumption that he did have marijuana. However, yesterday, the Miami authorities revealed that the bottle contained no marijuana or traces of any illegal substance. NBC still posted the  Saturday Night Live video making fun of Mike Vick on YouTube here.

Analysis: Now that the Miami district attorney has cleared Michael Vick, maybe the joke is on Saturday Night Live. You would think that Saturday Night Live would at least issue some kind of apology or retraction, and take down their video from YouTube. I haven’t looked at libel law recently, but if I were NBC, I would.

uTunes: Mia Rose ready to sign recording contract?

January 23, 2007

Mia Rose (from the UK) says she’s been flying (I’m guesssing to the U.S.) to consider whom she’ll sign with, presumably for a record deal.  Mia Rose is the No.1 Most Subscribed musician on YouTube, although for whatever reason some commenters still suggest some conspiracy theories.